Location: Gharana Wetlands, Suchetgarh, RS Pura, Jammu
Area: 40 acres approximately
Distance: 35 Kms from Jammu city
Last Sunday, I headed out to visit the Gharana Wetlands area where about 50 species of migratory birds reportedly arrive every winter. Bird photography is quite a hobby for me and so armed with my trusted Canon DSLR, I set out towards the wetlands.
Up until a few years ago, this area was encroached and neglected by the nearby villagers and the administration. But a recent order from the High Court, following a PIL, has resulted in government action to preserve this precious habitat of migratory birds.
I was mighty impressed with the efforts taken so far to announce the presence of this protected zone in the vicinity. Large signages on the roads easily led to the spot and the locals too were quite used to seeing people flock to the area to have a peek at the migratory avian population.
Since this area is barely a few kilometers from the Indo-Pak border, the migratory birds face a lot of disturbance and have trouble breeding and finding food. Besides declaring this a protected wildlife region, the officials also have the tough task of ensuring peace and quiet in this area.
I could spot the last BSF post in the distance and noticed the border fencing too. It was quite an amazing feeling to see the border this up close which actually looked very ordinary since it looked like a fence was erected in the middle of a field, dividing it on either sides. I had half expected to see loads of armed soldiers and a vast stretch on no-man’s land in between the two borders.
The early morning vibe of the azure blue skies which was tinted in beautiful hues by the rising sun was so lovely. I couldn’t stop from clicking a few pictures and marveled at the sharp colors everywhere in the absence of smog and pollution. Such dawn sights made it worth my while to get up this early in the morning and make the trip.
Bird count for the day
- Bar-headed Geese
- Gadwall Duck
- White throated Kingfisher
- Indian Moorhen
- Purple Swamp Hen
- Black Winged Stilts
- Green Shanks
- Common Teal
- Northern Pintails
- Northern Shovlers
- White Breasted Ibis
- Eurasian Wigeon
- Red Wattled Lapwing
- Warbling White-Eye
- Cattle Egret
- Spotted Owlet
- Long Tailed Shrike
- White throated Canary
It was an amazing day to sight a multitude of avian species at the Gharana wetlands. The most popular were of course the Bar-headed geese which began arriving around 8.30 a.m. and quickly settled in the water. The stunning sight of large flocks of these birds making gracious landing on the water is something I will never ever forget.
Besides these, there was a plethora of waterfowl species ranging from Gadwall, common teals, Eurasian Wigeon, lapwing, etc.
All in all a very productive and happy start to my day. I plan to head out in early December to spot more of the migratory population later this year. Hopefully by then the wetlands will be developed to their potential and have more resources for passionate bird watchers.
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